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Energia All-Ireland League: Men’s Division 2A Previews

Energia All-Ireland League: Men’s Division 2A Previews

Table toppers Queen's University showed plenty of defensive grit to edge past MU Barnhall in the last round ©Sabina Capozzoli/MU Barnhall RFC

Dub Lane is the setting for a mouth-watering top four showdown between leaders Queen’s University and Blackrock College, as Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 2A kicks back into gear.


Saturday, October 29

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

BALLYMENA (5th) v NENAGH ORMOND (6th), Eaton Park

After two wins on the trot, Ballymena lie just a point outside of the top four. Back from the professional ranks, centre Callum Patterson is firing on all cylinders for the Braidmen, chipping in with some important scores – including a maul effort at UL Bohemians.

There are five changes to the Nenagh Ormond team that suffered a derby defeat to Cashel. Sean Frawley, Johnny Hayes and John Hayes all get the nod up front, with Dave Gleeson and former Ireland Sevens international Josh Rowland added to the back-three.

There were convincing winning margins for both sides last season, as Ballymena claimed a 46-12 verdict at home – captain Glenn Baillie bagged their bonus point score – before a reinforced Nenagh outfit triumphed 41-7 in the rematch in Lisatunny.

CASHEL (2nd) v MU BARNHALL (7th), Spafield

Second-placed Cashel are targeting their third successive victory on Tipperary soil. Two-try prop Brendan Ryan revelled in their power game against Nenagh Ormond a fortnight ago, and that is something visitors MU Barnhall will be wary of.

The result did not go their way, but Barnhall took a lot out of their supercharged clash with Queen’s University. Veterans Tom McKeown and Gareth Murray are noticeably absent from tomorrow’s Barnhall team, which is captained by hooker Cathal Duff.

Shane Sweeney and Sean Wafer are the two other changes, with Sean Higgins moving to centre where he partners former Leinster player Darren Hudson. Out-half Adam Chester has scored 39 points for the Blue Bulls so far.

DOLPHIN (8th) v UL BOHEMIANS (10th), Musgrave Park

Bottom side UL Bohemians swap their own all-weather pitch for Dolphin’s, as they aim to put their losing start to the season behind them. Ian Keatley’s youthful squad picked up a losing bonus point against Ballymena.

Five of tomorrow’s personnel changes are in the pack, including the introduction of lock Pauric Galvin for Evan O’Connell who has made the Munster bench. Uruguayan Sevens international Juan Ignacio Garcia returns from injury on the right wing.

Brian Scott comes up against Keatley, his former Munster team-mate, with his Dolphin side having won three of their last four home league games. They ended the 2021/22 campaign with a 22-19 triumph over Bohs at Musgrave Park.

OLD CRESCENT (9th) v NAVAN (3rd), Takumi Park

Second-from-bottom Old Crescent make three changes up front and three behind the scrum for the visit of Navan. Former captain Cathal O’Reilly returns to the front row, while Jack Hogan and Conor Lenihan feature in a back-three missing the in-form Stephen Kiely.

Ryan Healy will pack down at loosehead for Navan, who turned in a terrific four-try performance against Dolphin. Head coach Ray Moloney has shuffled his deck in the back-line, looking to get more out of their pace and power out wide.

Rory Gordon and big South African Riaan van der Vyvyer come into the back-three, and Ben McEntagart switches to midfield where he partners former Dublin University centre Evan Dixon. Sean McEntagart fills the left wing berth.


Queen’s preparations for the resumption of their Division 2A campaign including a training session with members of the Ulster senior and Academy squads, led by the province’s assistant coach Craig Newby.

Unsurprisingly, giving their attack-driven play, Derek Suffern’s young guns are the top scorers across all five divisions with 125 points. This is their first meeting with Blackrock College since March 2019.

Blackrock look in much better fettle now, but this is a huge test of their ability to take their home form on the road. They will field an unchanged team in Belfast, with the only squad changes on the bench where James Burke and James ‘Jesus’ Fennelly return.